Keep rollin', rollin', rollin'...
It’s common knowledge that the Nintendo 3DS’ launch has been considerably maligned by a lack of desirable, quality software. So, it probably came as no surprise when Nintendo announced their decision to tap into their wealth of popular gaming reserves in the form of a couple of N64 remakes.
Rehashes, HD updates and downloadable collections of popular past titles are all the rage at the moment, as nostalgic gamers gobble up the often questionable serving of a proclaimed re-mastering. Often we’re left with a simple port, re-priced to reflect the hard ‘work’ put in by the new, outsourced developers. Sometimes however, remakes can be a fantastic proposition (Final Fantasy VII where are you!?) especially if it’s placed in the right hands and lavished with the same meticulous attention to quality that was devoted to the original title.
Hello Star Fox My Old Friend
Back in 1993, Nintendo managed to deliver the unthinkable. Jetting into millions of home around the world, carrying the coprocessor known as the Super FX Chip, Star Fox delivered the first ever 3D-polygon spectacle seen on the SNES platform, stunning gamers with the three dimensional models.
In 1997, Star Fox 64 (or Lylat Wars to us Europeans) graced the graphical behemoth that was the N64. Star Fox 64 was deemed a worthy reboot to the ground-breaking Star Fox and was the first game to support the N64’s Rumble Pak technology.
Over the years, Fox McCloud has become the unlikely mascot entrusted by Nintendo to spearhead important new technology into the market, whilst presenting a thoroughly enjoyable game in the process. Once again, Fox McCloud and his crew have nobly answered the call, and this time, it’s the Nintendo 3DS sending the distress signals. Fox McCloud is no stranger when it comes to flying directly down the proverbial ‘highway to the danger zone’ and this time he’s back in full, glasses-free 3D in Star Fox 64 3D.
We Need Your Help Star Fox!
The planet Corneria is under siege. The once-thriving planet was previously turned into a wasteland of near extinction by the mad evil scientist, Andross(the damned dirty ape). Banished to a life of exile by General Pepper, suspicious activity appeared in the Venom System five years later. The Star Fox team, headed by James McCloud, were assigned to investigate, consequently entering into a trap as James and Peppy O’Hare were betrayed by their fellow teammate, Pigma Dengar. Peppy O’Hare managed to miraculously escape the ambush, returning home to inform James’ son Fox of his father’s fate.
Andross has again invaded the Lylat Sytem and General Pepper has turned to a new Star Fox team headed by Fox McCloud. A furry fox, grumpy falcon, a wise old hare and an extremely irritating toad make up the courageous Star Fox crew, tasked with saving the Galaxy from the psychopathic simian Andross.
The shooting mechanics are tight, with the circle pad doing a more than adequate job at replicating the N64’s analogue stick.
Many of you will have already had the pleasure of playing Star Fox 64 and will undoubtably be more than familiar with this latest offering, however, for those of you who managed to miss out on piloting the fantastic fox, a brief explanation is order.
Star Fox 64 3D is relatively simple on first appearance, essentially it’s a 3D arcade shoot em’ up. Levels involve traversing Fox’s Arwing through a fixed, linear path, navigating past obstacles whilst shooting down a variety of incoming enemies. The player is able to navigate the Arwing around the 3D space inside the progressing ‘corridor’, with the ability to brake, boost and somersault; used to either engage or avoid enemies. Certain stages and boss battles divert from the linearity, offering the player a small, yet enclosed sandbox in which the Arwing can move freely around the designated area.
The core gameplay of Star Fox 64 3D consists of destroying numerous incoming enemies by ‘firing your lazers‘. Shots can be charged, enabling a lock-on which is useful for destroying fast moving enemies. Bombs are also available and are particular effective at clearing large groups of enemies in frantic situations. Crucially, the gameplay is fun and the portability factor works well thanks to the pick up and play gameplay on offer.
The shooting mechanics are tight, with the circle pad doing a more than adequate job at replicating the N64’s analogue stick. A new addition to Star Fox 64 3D is the option to control movement using the 3DS’ gyroscopes. Unexpectedly, it works extremely well, although if you enjoy playing with the 3D slider up, it can cause you to lose track of the 3D sweet spot unless you move your head in tangent as you tilt.
You Know You’re A Little…Space Ranger
Nintendo wisely decided to provide Star Fox 64 3D with an updated lick of paint, resulting in a visually pleasing game. The graphics aren’t revolutionary, nor are they particularly impressive, however, subtle changes to key areas such as texture quality, frame rate and character models ensure that Slippy Toad’s clueless face is as detailed as ever. In all honesty, it’s a actually a really pretty game. The original art style holds up well with the simplicity of the visuals perfectly sufficient for what is required.
New to the 3DS port is the opportunity to complete two campaigns, the original N64 campaign, or the new 3DS campaign which has been tweaked to work with the gryo control scheme. The campaign mode is rather short, however, there are multiple paths that can be discovered or chosen. A score attack mode is also available, with leader boards included to view your best scores. There’s definitely replay value for those determined to better their previous best scores or discover the alternate planets on offer.
The multiplayer element has also been given a fresh twist, however, disappointingly no competitive online mode is available. Thankfully, only one cartridge is needed to enable offline multiplayer which is as fun as it ever was. Cleverly, players’ faces are now streamed through the 3DS’ cameras so you can view your opponents reactions as you shoot them down in a dog fight. It’s hilarious taunting your friends as you somersault over them and gain an advantageous position.
Sounds Of The 90’s
Star Fox 64 3D is blessed with a memorable soundtrack, with recognisable, updated themes which have become a custom for many Nintendofans. Sound effects are truthful to the original, with the voice acting taking center stage. The phrase ‘Do a barrel roll!’ has become synonymous with gaming, and even over 10 years later, it’s as awesome as ever, especially in 3D! Slippy Toad’s still irritating as hell, wondering blindly into danger, whilst Falco remains true to his arrogant, spiky persona. Enemies still provide the classic lines such as ‘Stay in the pond froggy’ and ‘Andross’ enemy is MY enemy!’. The voice acting can sound rather stiff at times but it still brings a smile to my face. I long for the day when someone will say ‘Your becoming more like your father’ although in what context this will arise, I’m not too sure.
How good is the 3D effect? Star Fox 64 3D looks fantastic with the 3D slider cranked to full. A convincing depth of field is created, resulting in a more visceral and realistic experience as enemies fly in behind you and asteroids fly towards you. Star Fox 64 3D has to be one of the best looking games to showcase the 3D effects of the system, although whether this is owing to the suitability of the game or the work put in by the developers is another question. Simply put, it’s a remarkable effect and playing in 3D is the best way to play the game. Verdict? Crank that slider up!
If you loved the original and are ready to vanquish the armies of Andross all over again, with the added bonus of the portability factor, then there’s only positives and countless memories awaiting your purchase. If you’re sick to death of Star Fox 64 and are hoping for a re-imagining or reboot then sadly, you won’t find that here. If somehow you’ve never had a chance to join the Star Fox team in their past adventures then I implore you to check this game out. I’d go as far to say that if you’re a newcomer then add another half star to the overall review score. It’s fun, fast and looks fantastic in 3D. Fox McCloud kicked ass in 1997, and he’s still kicking ass today (hopefully Slippy’s).